Save for any unforeseen predraft fumble, Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro appears to be the undisputed top prospect at his position heading into the 2013 NFL draft. NFL draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. remarked that Vaccaro is a "physical defender who can play in the box and defend the run effectively, or drop into coverage." In a division in which Cincinnati has dealt with Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu over the years, it would only be proper to repay the AFC North with Cincinnati's version of an enforcer.
And that's where SB Nation's Mocking the Draft places Vaccaro in this week's mock draft.
At this point, Cincinnati is a hard team to pin down. No team has more money to spend on free agents, but few teams have as many big-time free agents of their own. The pick for the Bengals is going to change often leading up to the draft. The known about Cincinnati is that they generally draft more toward need in the first round. Safety is among the team's bigger issues and Vaccaro is easily the best in the class.
Need. Exactly. For all of the chest-pounding testosterone that tells us Cincinnati drafts tend to side with the "best player available" philosophy, the truth is that they draft based on need. Last year they needed a cornerback and selected cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick. The year before that it was A.J. Green to replace the departing Chad Johnson. Before that it was Jermaine Gresham, Andre Smith, Keith Rivers, Leon Hall, Johnathan Joseph, all needs based on the team's roster at the time.
Safety is a need. But if Vaccaro sticks around in the draft by the team's No. 21 pick, then he's probably a BPA also.